14 February 2015

Black and Asian perspectives on WW1

Over a million men from the Empire died alongside Europeans in the First World War, yet their stories are little known. Black and Asian perspectives on WW1 will explore this hidden loss through a day of pop talks and creative responses.

Join us for an informal day of pop up talks and creative responses to this hidden loss. There will be talks, film screenings and performance going on throughout the day.

Each will last from between 10 and 30 minutes – all exploring the non-white contribution to the First World War. Come along for as long as you like. Part of a programme of events to accompany the Moved by Conflict exhibition.

Event programme

Times may vary slightly

  • 11am-11.25am: Introduction to non-white troops taking part in the First World War – Kent Fedorowich and Charles Booth, UWE
  • 11.30am-11.55am: Researching descendants of African Caribbean First World War veterans – Edson Burton
  • 12pm–12.10pm: Pop-up talk  looking at different aspects of the non-white contribution to the First World War, Bristol Focus – Kent Fedorowich and Charles Booth, UWE
  • 12.15pm–12.45pm: African Kinship – SS Mendi tragedy – Shawn Sobers
  • 12.50pm–1pm: Pop-up talk looking at different aspects of the non-white contribution to the First World War, Bristol Focus – Kent Fedorowich and Charles Booth, UWE
  • 1pm-1.35pm: Making connections between the First World War and other conflicts – Yanet Ramirez, African Voices Forum
  • 1.40pm-1.50pm: Pop-up talk looking at different aspects of the non-white contribution to the First World War, Bristol Focus – Kent Fedorowich and Charles Booth, UWE
  • 1.55pm-2.25pm: African Kinship – SS Mendi tragedy – Shawn Sobers
  • 2.30pm-3.05pm: ‘Down Amongst the Black Gang’ – Ros Martin (studio 2)
  • 3.05pm-3.25pm: Informal session for visitors to talk one to one with contributors
  • 3.30pm-4pm: Sing and Resist workshop – Ros Martin, Clare Tomlinson and Red Notes choir. (studio 2)

Free entry to Moved by Conflict exhibition, when you attend these events.

Event Details

Shawn Sobers
Shawn will show and discuss his short film about the SS Mendi, a First World War ship transporting Black South African Labour Corps troops to join the British front line in 1917.  The SS Mendi was accidentally sunk off the coast of the Isle of Wight, resulting in 646 men losing their lives. His film explores this story from multiple angles and raises ideas about forms of remembrance. Why has this tragedy disappeared from British history books?

Edson Burton
For M Shed’s exhibition ‘Moved by Conflict’, Edson Burton interviewed members of Bristol’s African Caribbean community for their stories linked to the First World War. In his session Edson will discuss the stories he uncovered and the issues which came to light whilst talking to African Caribbean elders.

Kent Fedorowich and Charles Booth
Kent and Charles, from the University of the West of England, are experts on the First World War and have been involved in the BBC’s highly successful ‘World War One at Home’ series. They will be presenting an overview of the role of non-white troops from across the British Empire who took part in the First World War, and in their 10 minute ‘pop up’ talks will be highlighting some stories about non-white troops linked to Bristol.

Yanet Ramirez
Yanet Ramirez is an artist who has produced a mixed media book inspired by the research she has done on the role of African and Asian troops during the First World War. Her book can be used to stimulate discussion amongst adults and young people. In her informal session Yanet will show people the book and encourage people to contribute to it.

Ros Martin
Ros Martin will present and discuss ‘Down amongst the Black gang’ – a short reading with live music set on the SS Benvenue in 1918 during the First World War. This is a creative imagining of Nigerian Orlando Martin’s story, writer Ros Martin’s relative who was a fireman and actor. This is part of a larger work on colonialism and resistance.

Ros Martin and Clare Tomlinson
‘Sing and Resist: Wobblie songs to sing from the little Red Songbook’.  Facilitated by Clare Tomlinson and Ros Martin, this participatory workshop is inspired by the Wobblies – the Industrial Workers of the World – an international, radical labor union that was formed in 1905 and which opposed the First World War. Reluctant singers and non-singers all welcome.